Monday, February 6, 2012

Altra Lone Peak Trail Shoe

I picked up a pair of the Altra Lone Peak (trail) and Instincts (road) shoes from Fleet Feet Sports. Below are my personal impressions and opinions on the Lone Peaks.

The below information is directly from the Altra website:

Product Features

Inspired by the Lone Peak, one of the rockiest, toughest mountains on the Wasatch Range, The Lone Peak™ was designed to conquer the Wasatch 100. While the foot-shaped design allows athletes to stay relaxed and comfortable for hours, this do-everything mountain shoe promotes happy feet, increases ankle stabilization and improves form with the Zero Drop™ platform. The Lone Peak™ features an innovative, sandwiched StoneGuard™ system that deflects rocks into the midsole for a smoother, more stable ride. Stand above the rest with the ultimate trail running shoe.

Product Details

  • Weight: 9.9 oz
  • Zero Drop™ EVA/A-Bound Midsole
  • Foot Shaped Design: Male FS-1 Last
  • NRS: Natural Ride System
  • TrailClaw Outsole
  • StoneGuard and Trail Rudder
  • Strengthen and Support Insoles
  • Quick dry abrasion resistant mesh upper with minimal seams
  • Asymmetrical Lacing, HeelClaw, and A-Wrap for Superior Fit
  • Drilex Premium Liner
My Impressions: 
 I took these out on a 5 mile "get to know you" run on one of the sloppiest days on the trail I have seen in a long while. We had heavy rains for two days and then overnight switched to 2-4" of snow. It's a 1/2 mile of road to the trail head, the trail is singletrack with good elevation changes, roots, mud, rocks, and a calf level couple creek crossings.

First things I noticed:
 1. the traction is amazing. despite the mud & snow, the traction was excellent. the little spikes do not collect mud at all, stays clear.
2. the cushion is firm and adequate. As I understand it, the stoneguard is sandwiched between the midsole, allowing the cushion to take the hits and leaving a smooth feel on jagged rocks. I like this design immensely. It literally gives you a firm ride with cushion.
3. the stone guard makes this shoe feel bomb-proof. I covered some sections of the trail with near reckless abandon that I normally take more care on.
4. the trail rudder....I couldn't tell how much this affected the run, but it didn't seem to do much for me except add some traction on the down slopes. 
5. overall, the shoe is stable and the toe box is roomy enough to fit your feet the way feet are least mine are. 
6. water drainage after a creek crossing is average.
7. they are certainly a bit more firm than other trail shoes, you can feel this on the roads especially. It seemed to me to 'encourage' you to mid-foot strike. It took a couple minutes to get the strike just right, but once I was dialed in I took the pace up as usual.

The following day I debated on these shoes or another pair for a 50k training run. I ended up lacing these up for a second run.

Here are my takeaways from the two days (36mi) of running in these. 
1. The quality in Altras is apparent. This is a well thought out shoe that I have no doubt will handle tough 100 mile runs.
2. These are not minimal shoes, the heel & toe cushion is 17mm (zero drop) but they feel light on the feet at about 9.9oz. I would call them natural running shoes.
3. I went down a 1/2 size in the Lone Peaks. 
4. By the end of the 31 miler, I will honestly admit that my feet were NOT sore. I could feel the zero drop difference (compared to my normal 4-7mm shoes I wear) when climbing, but overall it was not significant.
5. The day after the run, my feet were still fine...I ran a fast 10 mile uptempo road run with no issues. 

My overall opinion of this product if you are looking for a zero drop, natural style trail running shoe to handle tough trail runs & 100 mile ultras, this is a great choice. Altra is doing great things.


Nuun Hydration

I'll put this on the table before I proceed on the nuun (pronounced like "noon") review. I am a proud nuun ambassador starting in 2011 and recently confirmed to continue into 2012. I would not promote nuun if I didn't actually use it.

If you have read other posts of mine on races, nutrition, and other ramblings, you will find a common thread that I always use nuun. I use other products/foods for my caloric intake and those have changed as I have progressed in my running, but I have been a loyal nuun consumer throughout.

I'm not going to go through all the facts, all the things that it does. I will tell you that every single ultramarathon from 50k to 100 miles, I have have utilized the product. I don't have an iron stomach, maybe more steel....but there are some items that I can just not tolerate after hours and hours on the trails. I will say that I literally still enjoy nuun until the end. If you don't want tropical berry anymore, change it, there are a ton of other flavors.

Here are the things I like the most:

Portability - they come in these great little tubes, pop the cap, drop in 1,2 depending on your needs. Keep the tube with you in the hydration pack or use single serve packets in your handheld. When you run out and go to re-fill your water, drop in the tabs. I use 1-2 per 16oz bottle, and 4-6+ in a 60oz hydration bladder, depending on conditions. 
Flavor - the flavor is slight enough to tolerate for hours on a run, ride, etc... It also works great for everyone; I give it to my kids for sports & other activities rather than high sugar drinks!
Electrolytes - the actual product is not just sodium. They contain sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, Vitamin C, & B-12 and a list of other non-active ingredients. 8 cals per tab, no carbs, no sugar, vegetarian, etc.. see the FAQ for more detailed information.

So, that's my 2 cents on nuun. I have used it since I discovered it at a local bike store. I bought a tube and after always messing with taking electrolyte pills while running and cycling, I was excited to try a product that tasted great and allowed me to drink as normal rather than try to take pills while running (not always easy at race pace!!).

So, go check out the website, pickup a couple tubes and try it.

New Balance MT110

Ok, so after 100+ miles on them, here is my review on the NB110's that I picked up over the Winter months.

Weight: 7.7 oz (size 9)
Stack Height: Heel (18mm), Forefoot (14mm); 4mm heel / toe drop.

I have to say that my first impressions of the shoe are influenced from my experience over the previous model, the NB101 that I really enjoyed, but needed some improvements in my opinion.

First Impressions (Out of the box):

My first run in these was on packed snowy trails. We did about 15 miles at a relatively quick pace on singletrack, snow covered roads, and groomed packed snow trails. In order, these are the most noticeable changes from the 101: improved traction, noticeably better fit, nimble, sock-like fit. In the photo below, I have on a thin pair of smart wool socks but I have put on over 100 miles in these shoes, many of which have run sock-less. I wear an 11.5 in most running shoes and these fit true to size. I do have a fuller midfoot, so for me, these run a little on the snug side. Without socks (or very thin ones), they are a near perfect fit for me.These do come in widths, so once these are worn out, I may try a larger width in them as long as it does not affect heel slippage.

Due to weather and travel, the majority of my runs in these shoes were on very sloppy and cold conditions. The traction is much better than the 101, but these shoes did not excel for me in very muddy conditions. I literally could not wait to get them on fast and dry trails. I had a feeling that these would excel at mid-distance, dry trails where you can scamper down the trail like a fox.

They do have a light rock plate which saves your feet from the rocks and I should make note that the upper has a really supple and new membrane that gives it a very smooth feel. I have ripped a few holes from sharp rocks and even some sticks that have caught the membrane, but I would expect as much from such a lightweight shoe.

The toe-"lip" as I would call it gives some protection over the big toe, which is needed and a nice thought.

Laces - It always bothers me when shoe companies put a lot of thought into a new shoe yet the laces don't stay tied. NB has got this right, they have simple laces that hold in place....well done. 

Drainage - the drainage in these shoes is excellent, but they do like to collect sediment due to the lower cut sides.

I've since taken these out on a few speed workouts on the trails that cover everything from asphalt, fire-roads, to technical rocky single-track, grassy fields, and well worn paths. I've run anywhere from 8-18 miles in them and think they would be perfect for 5k to 50k on trails. As for 100miles at Leadville in them like Anton Krupika....I need a little more cushion, but if you want a minimum featured neutral trail shoe for your daily training & racing, this one is a strong contender.

Oh, one point that can not be missed.....molded in the lugs are the inverted words "K E E P  U P" so when you leave your foot print, the followers can read it correctly. Nice touch. 

CEP Compression Socks & Sleeves

As athletes, we use a lot of gear...expecially in sports like running where you wear down products continually. I am only writing gear reviews on items that I have used for extended periods of time.

With that being said, I am totally obsessed with my compression socks & just recently the sleeves. I pretend that I am not a bit of a gear junkie, but I am at least a little. I tried my best to avoid the desire to try a product to help me with recovery; I always think nature is better, let the body do it's job...well, after talking to a few folks who actually use them, I finally picked up a pair of CEP recovery socks to give them a try.

So here is my biased review after owning and using them now for about 6 months. First things first, they are a workout just to get them on. There is a little trick to get them on by pulling them nearly inside-out, leaving the sole of the foot still in, put the foot in, and slide them on with a little struggle.

I now wear these after every long run (say 3 over hours ). On some days, I sleep in them, wear them under my suit pants at work, but I have never run in them. I use them purely for recovery. At first, I thought maybe it was the placebo effect that after everytime I wore them I had great runs, felt light, no problems, etc....but I have yet to have any negative effects from them. Recovery does seem faster and it's now the very first thing I go for immediately after an ultra or long training effort.


With that being said, I finally thought I should give the sleeves a try. I have only had them for about 4 weeks but I have had a number of good long trail and road runs in them. Aside from looking like a tribal warrior in them with shorts, I just figure people think I forgot my running socks so I am wearing my dress socks. The runs that I have had have been cold and have taken place on the Kettle Moraine trails in Wisconsin as well as rolling roads. I also worn them on a few long trail runs locally.

My opinion is that overall I like them. I can feel that they are supporting my calves as I am running, hopefully reducing the amount of overall vibration & pounding that ultimately causes the muscle soreness. I though that there would be a bit of a squeezing effect since they are sleeves, making my feet feel like they are going to pop, but that was not the case at all. For those of us who wait until the temperatures really drop before finally putting long running pants/tights on...these also give you a some warmth....I have not tried them at warmer temperatures yet.

CEP Compression Calf Sleeves

I have to admit, I did see a pair of mens diabetic black socks at the store for much less than the CEP's and I do wear them, but they compress far less. They feel like tight dress socks. good to wear when the CEP's are in the wash.


Adidas Adistar Boston 2 Road Shoes

I have got to make a quick product review of my shoes. I don't often do this, but yesterday I knocked out a 50 mile trail run, the Hauling Trail Illegal 50 Miler completely in Adidas Boston 2 Road shoes. I killed my PR by about 20 minutes and did it in a pair of Smart Wool Mens PhD Light socks, Green Superfeet inserts & these shoes below. I have been having issues with plantar fasciitis and some ankle issues. The best combination I have found are these shoes. They still fit my needs for lightweight everyday training shoe, but with ample firm but soft cushioning in the forefoot. The upper breathes well and even on the off-camber slopes, roots, mud, etc... my foot was secure enough in the minimal upper. Let me say that I run nearly 100% of my trail runs in trail shoes; this was an experiment for me. So, with that solid test and a course "win" (not an official race ;), I will be wearing these at my next race...the Burning River 100 mile endurance trail run.
 Anyhow, this is what I am sticking to. I will pickup another pair over the next week or two as my mileage is creeping up on my current pair. I think I'll go for the green ones this time around. Very happy with the shoe.....and very happy with yesterday's results. Off to go do some eating to replenish the calories burned, baby!!!